Category Archives: parenting

february 1

february 1
february 1 Print

When I was a kid my mother always asked me why not leave your hair alone?, stop curling it with the iron, it is so pretty straight.

I didn’t listen.  I thought she was crazy.

Now I’m asking my daughter why not wear your hair up?, wear braids, let’s get pretty barrettes.

She doesn’t listen.  I think she thinks I’m crazy.

Her headband-that-doesn’t-really-act-as-a-headband is where we lock heads most of all.




Driving my son to school this morning, I bring up the topic of flu shots.

I got my flu shot yesterday because I was getting bloodwork done already.  When I saw the flu shot signs, that grey veil came over me:  Crap.

My kids are really ridiculous (f*#@ing infuriating) when it comes to getting their flu shots.

So I suggest to my son:

“Let’s get it over with – let’s go right now and get it done and then you are set.”

GASP from the back seat when I said “go right now”.

“No!” he shrieks.

I roll my eyes.  This is a talent I have perfected over time, rolling my eyes while driving.

“You have to get it done at some time,” I tell him.

He immediately wants to know when his sister is going to get hers.

“Next week some time, that has nothing do with you!”

Patience drying up…

“Why do I have to get a flu shot?” he whines from the back.  He is actually cowering.

“For God’s sake,” I yell, “you behave like you’re going to get a knife through the heart!”

Do you ever wonder what people see as they are driving past you and you are yelling at your kids?  Must not be pretty.

“Do you think Mommy likes taking you to get your flu shot?” I ask of him.

He stubbornly looks out the window.

Patience gone.

“No! No I don’t!” I tell him.  “So maybe you could f*#@ing help me out and say:  Sure Mommy let’s go get my flu shot now, I’ll be a big brave man.”

I breathe.

We get to kiss and ride.  He opens his door and races out.

“Bye Mommy!” he yells back.

My arm really hurts, by the way.





I wonder if maybe I can ban kids’ parties.

My kids have gone to their fair share, and we have thrown our fair share as well.

There is a lot of anxiety involved.  Will everyone come?  Will anyone come?  It all works out in the end.

But the worst part is, inviting the kid who then doesn’t invite your kid to their party.

It happens.  Boohoo, I know.

Years ago, a boy in my son’s JK/SK class had a party.  The boy was in JK; my son was in SK.  He didn’t invite my son but he invited most of the other SK boys.

When my son came home and told me this, I was surprised.  We played with this boy a lot at the park.  In fact, we regularly shared our snacks with him at the park.  He seemed to get a kick out of my son.

Then this.

So the next day at the park, I saw his Mom.  I spoke to her every now and then too.  I decided to see what might happen if – rather than stew – I talked to her about it like a grown-up.  I approached her and said:

“So we heard about the party.”  She smiled.  So I said:  “Did my son in some way hurt your son to not be invited?”

I’m embarrassed now, I will wholeheartedly admit.  But it came from a good place rather than a pathetic place.   I was really curious:  how do people make these choices?   Why not my son?  What am I not understanding?  Help me understand.

She told me she had asked her son the morning the invites went out:  “Who should go?”

So her five year old gave her the list as he was leaving for his bus.

She told me that my son was more than welcome to join them.  So he did.

I felt like an idiot.  My experiment failed.  Talking like grown-ups doesn’t always solve things.  But my son got a party out of it.

We haven’t always tried to include everybody, but we have tried to say just neighbourhood friends, or all the boys in the class.  We did, my son’s final party year, ask everybody in his class and then some plus some of my daughter’s friends as well.  That was really fun.

My son is pretty decent about all this.  He didn’t get invited to a party recently.  It was brought up in front of him so he knew he had not been included.  I hated this.  My heart ached and wanted to smash stuff both.  But when we got home and I asked him:

“Does this bother you?”

He told me:  “I’d rather draw.”

I am looking forward to the party years where, when your kid isn’t specifically invited, then he just goes with his friends anyway – because no one needs to be specifically invited.  Or if they do, then his buddies say:  Fuck it, we aren’t going either.

Until then, I’m hiding.




hell is for children

hell is for children

I’ve seen kids do a lot of things.  Kids wrestle, giggle, chase each other, dig, hold hands, dance, play soccer, make up stories, act those stories out, run, skip, dawdle.

I’m a potty mouth so when I hear a kid say a swear word, I am not shocked or upset or indignant ie Wash your mouth out!  I don’t think words make a bad person.

Swear words, anyway.  Damn, shit – and why does my kid think ‘hell’ is a bad word?   Who taught him that?

Kids push, shove, bite, argue, kick, grab, throw knapsacks at each other, punch.

I saw a girl spit at another girl once.

But one thing I know from eating dinner with them, from listening to them and walking with them in the schoolyard and finding them crying and being in the middle of it all -

It’s not easy being a kid.


So many choices to make and trying to figure out right from wrong and all those people – if you are told what you chose was wrong – that you think you have disappointed:  Mom, Dad, the teacher, the principal, friends, brothers, sisters, Sidney Crosby – holy canoli as someone I know just wrote and made me smile.

Sure I have to open the letter from the mortgage company when it comes (Oh hey look – our taxes went up again wheeeeee) and I have to make the lunches and I have to bring the cat to the vet when she isn’t well and I have to make the doctor appointments and buy the right toothpaste and not run out of gas – but one thing is for sure -

Thank God I’m not a kid.




My son was sick the other night.

He fell asleep around eight thirty that evening then woke up around ten, moaning with a sore tummy.

Aaron and I sat by his side as his plaintive moaning turned to really loud moaning.  We had to shut his window.  He also couldn’t lie still.  He insisted on lying on the floor beside his wastebasket.  Aaron asked him where it hurt, how it hurt. The pains were sharp and uneven and right centred on his tummy.  It didn’t seem to be appendicitis.

So let me say: I felt horrible seeing my boy in pain and so uncomfortable.  I believed he was in pain.  I wanted to help him be better.

Now that I’ve said that, let me say this:  My son wins the fucking Oscar for that performance.   It wasn’t all pretend but it certainly was melodramatic.

Things he said as the sharp pains continued:

“It’s never going to stop!”

“It hurts so much!”

“Please let me die!”

“I wish I was dead!”

“It’s NEVER going to end!”

There were a lot of OWWWWWWWs and ARRGHHHHHs.

As time crept by, he felt the need to remain on the floor but with his head INSIDE his plastic wastebasket.

He also made a few trips to the washroom, bent over like Mr. Burns.  He came back, unsuccessful in his attempt to have a bowel movement.

Other things he moaned loudly:

“I’m NEVER going to throw up!”

“Why can’t I barf?”

“Why does this have to happen to MEEEEEEEEEEE?!!”

I suggested a hot water bottle and while Aaron prepared it downstairs, I rubbed my son’s back.  He started to drift off to sleep and when Aaron came back, we smiled at each other.

I placed the water bottle gently on my son’s tummy, he immediately sat up and said really quickly:

“I need the wastebasket!”

Then he threw everything up into the wastebasket.  Afterward, he lay back, sang me a song about his white teddy, giggled and fell asleep.

My ears rang with the sudden silence in the room.  It was quarter to twelve.  Aaron and I looked at each other, stunned and tired.

My son was fine the next day.

We figured it was some kind of food poisoning as we both felt fine and our daughter was painlessly snoring a storm the entire time in her room.

My husband thinks maybe our son needs to wash his hands better.


turning orange

turning orange

This month it was my daughter’s yearly physical.  My daughter is smaller than many girls her age and with a history of Crohn’s in our family, our doctor has shown some concern when our daughter fails to thrive ie. gain any weight.  We’ve always been of the opinion that eating is not her number one priority.  But our doctor – and she could be right – says often when a child doesn’t eat it is a sign that there is pain when digesting.  Needless to say, diet always comes up.

My daughter sits beside me as our doctor asks her various questions.  I feel awkward during this period of time.  I don’t want to look at my daughter as it may appear I am coaching her on what to say (“I only watch one hour of tv a day”).

I also don’t want to be looking at our doctor as it may appear that I am budding into a conversation that has nothing to do with me.

I stare at my lap.

Our doctor asks about food.

“How are you eating?”

My daughter shrugs, so I tell our doctor:


This means she eats little over a long period of time.  My daughter can turn a pork and rice meal into a marathon.

She also does not like fruit and less so vegetables.

“What vegetables will you eat?” she asks my daughter.

“Carrots,” she says.

This is a staple.  Our doctor informs her that it is possible to turn orange if she eats too many (extreme case).  My son would have immediately only wanted carrots from then on if this had been his appointment.

“Do you try other vegetables?” our doctor asks her.

I stare back down into my lap.  It is her turn to answer.

“I eat lettuce,” she says.

“Good.  But you need to try more.  Do you eat broccoli?”

My daughter shakes her head and says:

“It’s never really put in front of me.”

Nice one.  And kapow, it happens.  The moment where up to now I have just been an innocent bystander minding my own business and then suddenly I’m guilt ridden with fingers pointing at me.

I imagine our doctor thinking:  So there’s the problem.  This lovely little child would eat it.  Mom’s just too lazy to put it in front of her.

Point:  Doctor.

Really, our doctor wouldn’t think that.  But if she did – she’d be partly right.  I gave up a while back.  I tried asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, different kinds of potatoes that weren’t fried.  I grew tired of a disgusted face and a tongue sticking out like I’d just given her a broiled piece of turd.

So carrots it was.

I always thought that ‘turning orange’ thing was an urban legend.

Later on, our doctor touches lightly on a new topic:  the turning into a woman stuff.  She asks my daughter:

“Do you know about getting your period?”

My daughter stares at her blankly and then shakes her head.  In my own head I roll my eyes and sigh loudly.  But in front of everyone, I say to her:

“She means menstruation.”

My daughter nods, Oh yeah.

So next point:  Mommy.  I use the big word instead of the easy word.

So far it’s a tie.


bob and nardo

bob and nardo

We watched ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’ over the weekend.  My daughter half bought that these two actors were major heartthrobs; meanwhile, I had trouble looking at Robert Redford.  He looked so good, it hurt.

We watched ‘Shane’ the weekend before.  Neither of these movies offer up a white hat and a black hat.  Shane is a violent, troubled loner.  Butch is a criminal.

Then we watched ‘West Side Story’.

This is my favourite musical.  I love the dancing, but I am a mess as soon as they start singing.  Blubbering starts right away when Tony sings ‘Maria’.  By the end of the movie I am a pile of salty wet tears, snot and spit, hand clutched to heart.

My kids know about ‘Romeo and Juliet’.  We’ve seen ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’.  This time, we discussed the racial divide as it is represented in the film, Sharks vs. Jets, Puerto Rican kids vs. white working class kids.

I am a sucker for Bernardo.

Soon after, my son had a birthday party to attend.  I washed my face.  We got into the car and as I backed out, he said:

“Too bad the good guys didn’t win in ‘West Side Story’.”

I stopped the car.

“Who do you think the “good guys” are in ‘West Side Story’?” I asked him.

“The white guys.”

My stomach sank and I felt cold, and a little sweaty.

He explained that he felt the bad guy was the one with the gun who shot Tony.

I took the long way round to the birthday party.  I told him how Chino hated Tony because Tony killed Nardo and Tony hated Nardo because Nardo killed Riff and how all this was based on anger, racism, ignorance, intolerance, prejudice.

By the end, his head hung as if I’d been reprimanding him.  He ran off to play laser tag.

It is normal to want to find a good guy in all the muck of the world.  Once you find the good guy, I guess you need a bad guy to balance things out.  But the world isn’t ‘Star Wars’.  It is more complicated.  I needed him to know that.

I think he gets it now.










Once my biggest challenge was making the 4X100 relay team.  Other challenges?  Stop smoking, date a guy who works for a living, date a guy who doesn’t lie.

Cough without peeing myself.

My daughter the other day told me that some classmates – girls – had taken it upon themselves to inform her (often) when she was being “a spaz”.

Biggest challenge ever?  Stop myself from driving to school to tell these girls that maybe they’d fooled everybody else (what smart sweet girls), but I was on to them.

My kids aren’t perfect examples of respectable behaviour.  My daughter’s impatience is what led to this label that, I discovered, she has been carrying for months.  By the last few days of school, she was beyond weary.  She was done.

She is moving schools with some other classmates.  She told me she conducted a survey these last few days of Who Will Miss Me and Who Won’t Miss Me.

I found this sheet as I went through her stack of papers the days following June 29.  There were columns she had not shared with me, such as Who Will Sort Of Miss Me and Who Says They Will Miss Me But Actually Won’t.

Both columns had the names of two girls I thought to be her good friends.  My daughter told me that as school wound down, these girls had told her she budded into their lives too much when they didn’t want her there.  I asked her:  How did you feel about that?  She said she was happy for summer to come.

There was another column:  Who Says They Won’t Miss Me But They Actually Will.  She had written a boy’s name, one we had heard many times throughout the year.

“He says he won’t miss me,” she said to me, giggling, “but I know he will.”






My son, my daughter, my husband and I were watching The Scorpion King the other night.  First we saw the Scorpion King asleep with his woman, the Sorceress.  Then, in a nearby tent, we saw Balthazar asleep with a woman as well.  He got up from bed and revealed another woman on his other side.

My eight year old son yelled:


“Two of them!”



My husband and I said nothing.   I spent that time saying nothing wondering if I should be saying something, like indignantly screaming ‘Turn this off!’ or posturing in a preachy way ‘This in no way is to be used as a moral compass’.

I looked at my husband.  He was smiling.

We let it go.